Whenever I have lived or traveled in a foreign country, I believed it was necessary to learn some of the local language. But, oh my, the changes that requires in how our minds work! Language is a mental game. One that, for me, is challenging to master.
In my 20s, I lived in Germany and learned some “conversational” German. I knew enough to buy ski lift tickets, reserve a camping site over the phone, order a meal, shop the markets and be cordial to my neighbors. I had NO idea how much of that language would take root in my mind.
And Another 20 Years
Twenty years after living in Germany, we moved to Norway. Out of respect for my host country, I tried to learn and use a bit of Norwegian. I was totally shocked that my mind kept offering German words whenever I couldn’t remember the Norwegian words I wanted. I had no idea my limited German vocabulary had been living in the recesses of my mind for nearly two decades.
After another twenty years of life, I began working on another language. For several reasons, I started studying Spanish. Again, my mind kept filling in German words when the Spanish ones wouldn’t come fast enough. Evidently latent languages in our minds don’t give up easily, especially those we learn early in life.
I really admire people who can speak several languages fluently. My mind won’t change gears that easily. Perhaps the key to the success that others have is that they start speaking multiple languages in childhood.
I’m headed to a couple French speaking countries for my next trips. “Oh, mon! Confusion multiple.” As easy as that translation is, maybe my secret to speaking French is to just move my adjectives to the other side of the nouns and work on a French accent. Then, perhaps I could communicate.
I foresee more mental exercise and the need to change my mind again – at least for a short while. (I wonder how I’m going to smother those German words.)